Hard-gainer's must read
Deeper look at yourself
The best abs workout
Strestches and flexibility
Beginning, cardio, sports
Power to the People!
Your workouts should reflect your goal.
If your goal is just muscle
toning and staying in shape - any physical activity will do, just do it
correctly and avoid injuries. But if you want to gain muscle and strength or
lose weight - that will require your understanding of the process.
Your muscles grow when they recover
from heavy stress that you put on them in the gym. Your body 'thinks' that you were
fighting for your life and nearly made it. It builds some extra muscle
to make your chances better next time. The same story in other words: when you stress
your muscle to the limit, it gets micro-injured. When it repairs the damage, having
enough time and building material, it overdoes a little, to prevent
a micro-injury in the future.
If you want your muscle to grow, you should give it as much
stress as possible in the gym, then provide it with everything it
needs to recover and grow - time and food.
Do not stress the same muscle every day - it will not have enough time to recover
and grow. If you work out regularly the last 6 months or more, you should pump
really heavy weights, as heavy as you can take. In this case your muscles will need more
time to recover, more than they needed when you started working out.
Recovery time depends on your metabolism rate. Most people need 48 hours of
"leisure time" for a heavily exercised muscle.
Just started working out? For the first couple of weeks or a month
(depending on your shape) take it easy, do not push yourself to the limit,
otherwise you can easily injure yourself. If you work out regularly only the
last 6 months or less, it is a good idea to do a whole body workout in one day,
without splitting your routine. Start your workout with larger
muscles, and move to smaller ones. For example: legs-back-chest-arms-calves-abs.
Work out 2-3 days a week, but not 2 days in a row.
After the first 6 months, your workouts should be short (about one hour) and
Most people achieve their best results in muscle building with 2-4 exercises
for the target muscle, 2-4 sets per exercise, 5-8 reps per set. Larger muscles,
like legs, require more exercises or sets. In any case, each set should have 4-10
reps. More reps will not help you in muscle building.
There are compound and isolation exercises.
Compound exercises allow you to use heavier weights - they are more effective for muscle growth
than isolation exercises. Bodybuilders use isolation exercises mostly to achieve better
muscle definition, when they already have a lot of mass. To give a good stress to a target muscle,
you may start with 3-4 sets of a compound exercise, then do other 2 compound or isolation
exercises (2-3 sets each). Check the type of an exercise in the exercise popup
Warm up to improve performance and prevent injury!
Warm up for 10-15 minutes prior to the actual workout. You should begin to sweat.
The whole purpose of your warm up is to increase body temperature by one or two degrees.
Let only a few minutes elapse from completion of the warm up until the actual workout.
A warm-up will not cause early fatigue or hinder performance. On the contrary, warm-ups will increase
your performance. For a good warm-up, try 5-7 minutes of jogging followed by stretches.
Start every weight-lifting exercise with one or two warm-up sets.
Use a weight that is one-third to two-thirds of the goal weight you will be lifting that day.
Try this pattern.
First do one warm-up set with a light weight (10-15 reps).
Then do 10 reps with your goal weight. Increase the weight and do 8 reps. Increase
it again and do 6 reps. Do the last 2 sets to failure - use help of a sparring
partner when necessary. This means that you should use such weight that you
cannot do one extra rep, even if your life depends on it. Rest 60-120 seconds
between sets (30-60 sec for small muscles, more for larger ones), 2-3 minutes
Increase the reps to 12-10-8 when you are comfortable with 10-8-6 reps.
Increase the load
after you did 12-10-8 reps for a few days. Start with your 10 reps set, then do your 8 reps set,
then increase the weight and do one more set. For the last set, use such weight
that allows you to do only 4-6 reps. Train with these weights until you can do 12-10-8,
then increase weights again.
Remember, you have to stress your muscles very hard to make them grow. You will
not achieve that with light weights. Some experts recommend rotating a strength
building routine (4-8 sets of 2-5 reps with extremely heavy weights) and a mass building
routine (2-4 sets of 5-10 reps). Follow each routine until you see some progress, it usually
Use the proper form of an exercise, otherwise you will rob the target
muscle of the required stress, and can injure yourself. Use exercise descriptions and pictures to learn the proper form, and stick to it.
Change your exercises. Your muscles get used to the same movements and
it becomes harder and harder to push them to the limit. Time to time (say once a
month or every 2 months) switch to different exercises for the same muscle
group. Use supersets and other advanced techniques to 'surprise' your muscles in
order to stress them more than you can with regular exercises. Supersets put a
lot of stress on your body, do not do them every workout.
Avoid overtraining. Overtraining is a situation when you stress your
muscles more often than they can recover. It doesn't do any good to your
muscles. Remember, stressing them is only one half of muscle building, the
second half, when muscles actually grow, is recovery. If your muscles don't have
enough recovery time or food, but you keep pushing, they will actually lose
mass. Overtraining is bad not only for your muscles, but also for your health in
general. Some signs of overtraining: feeling chronically tired, having trouble
sleeping, being sick all the time with colds and flues or feeling depressed. To
avoid overtraining, concentrate on resting, eating and sleeping as hard as on
pushing iron :)
Split your routine. If you are doing 2-4 exercises per muscle group, 2-3 sets each - the
whole body workout
will not fit in one hour. You'll have to split your routine. You can split it into
2 or 3 days. If you split it into 3 days, you'll have to workout more often. Do
not exercise the same muscle 2 days in a row. Check the list of all involved
muscles in the exercise popup window.
Eat a lot. Eat, rest, and then eat again! Avoid animal fat, sugar and
salt. Eat more protein (lean meat and poultry, fish, milk, egg whites) and
complex carbohydrates. Your food should have a lot of complex carbohydrates.
Eating 100% protein all the time would be a big mistake. Proteins are the
building material for your muscles, carbohydrates are the primary source of
energy. Complex carbohydrates are pasta, potatoes, grey and whole-wheat bread,
corn, bananas, and other food with starch. Simple carbohydrates are sugar and
very refined white flour. Simple carbohydrates tend to turn your food into your
For muscle growth, you would need about 1g (some sources say more) of protein
for a pound of your weight every day. Calculate how much protein you can eat
with natural food, and take the rest with supplements. Eat natural food 3-4
times a day and take supplements in between. Also, take at least one pill of
multivitamins and minerals a day. Drink at least 8 glasses of pure water a day,
by small portions during the day - it improves your metabolism and helps your
muscles to recover.
And the last, but not the least, workout regularly! It is very important.
Your muscles are very fast to forget what they've become.
First of all, it is practically impossible to build muscle mass and get rid
of the fat the same time. When you build your muscle mass, you inevitably get a little of
extra fat, otherwise you would not have enough food or recovery time for muscle growth.
When you exercise to lose your fat, your diet and exercises
prevent muscle growth. Bodybuilders build muscle (and some fat :-) during their
off-season, and rip their bodies during their on-season.
To lose fat, you need some sort of a calorie reduced healthy diet and a lot of aerobic exercise.
There are 2 types of exercise - aerobic and anaerobic. Anaerobic exercise is
a very intensive exercise, that you can do only for a short time. It uses oxygen
faster than your body can replenish. This is the type of exercise that is used
in weight training. Another example - fast sprinting.
To burn your fat, you need aerobic exercise - prolonged, low or moderate
intensity work, like 30 minutes of jogging. You need oxygen to burn your fat. Doing
20 reps of bench press is not an aerobic exercise, it is still anaerobic, but
a pretty inefficient one for muscle building because of low intensity.
What you need is 30-60 minutes of aerobic activity, like jogging, or
steps, or aerobic classes, or swimming. The more often you do this, the faster you lose
your weight. You can also do anaerobic exercises (weights), but
preferably on separate days. They will not burn your fat, but they will help to
keep your metabolism rate up.
Take vitamins and drink at least 8 glasses of water
every day. 30 minutes before your workout, drink a cup of coffee, or strong tea,
or take a weight-loss pill that speeds up your metabolism, and eat
some carbohydrates, for example half of a bagel. Fat burning requires
some easy energy to start the process. Do not eat at least 3 hours before going
This page covers only the basics.
If you are serious about getting results from your workouts,
you should read a good book, create yourself a workout plan, customized
to your fitness level and metabolism rate (whether you are a
hard-gainer or not), and follow that routine systematically. There's a list of
books on this page that I dare to recommend you. And remember - there's no
magic book or pill. They can help you a lot, but you still have to do all the work.